Can Darwin, Explain the Rise in Autistic Spectrum Disorder?

The next stage of evolution is here

Everyone will have a basic idea of Darwin’s theory of evolution, but does it still apply today?

The theory of evolution by natural selection, first formulated in Darwin’s book “On the Origin of Species” in 1859. This is the process by which organisms change over time as a result of changes in heritable physical or behavioural traits. Changes that allow an organism to better adapt to its environment, which will help it survive.

Does it still apply today? The answer is yes. ASD (Autistic Spectrum Disorder) could be the next example of evolution.

Our Social Media Obsession

Our society has become a world obsessed with social media. We live in a place where stimulation comes in many different forms. Adults and children are not happy unless they are stimulated, continuously.

Social media gives us an inability, to focus on one task at a time. We change between Twitter, Facebook and Instagram. The Ventral Tegmental Area (VTA) in our brain releases dopamine when we gain social status. This is the same chemical that is released, when you take cocaine. It is that addictive.

Humans are striving for popularity and status, in an environment that is fake and holds no productive value.

The ASD Brain

People with ASD can concentrate on one task to completion. They are not inclined to pass from one platform to another.

Dr Jeff Anderson, a professor in Radiology at the University of Utah Health in Salt Lake City, directed his attention to the complex circuitry of the human brain

Within the experiment, 1400 people aged 19–34, had MRI scans. Within this cohort, 800 participants had not been diagnosed with ASD, the control group.

Through the scans, the researchers were able to confirm that in the brains of people with autism, connections persist for extended periods. This was in comparison with the brains of neurotypical individuals. In autism, the brain found it harder to switch between processes.

There was, however, one fundamental limitation to the study. The hypothesis only worked with the male participants. This, therefore, may not offer the full picture of what characterises autism in the brain.

Has the human race evolved to remove the damage social media is doing to our brains?

Statistical Increase

In the 1970s and 1980s, one in 2000 children were diagnosed with Autism. Today the CDC state that one in 150 children are diagnosed.

When they conducted this research it asked two questions.

  • Is autism on the rise, or do the new statistics reflect the growing awareness of the condition?
  • If autism is on the rise, as most experts believe, what is causing the increase?

Many of you may think the first answer is yes. However, we can say that our growing awareness of the condition is because of the increase in numbers. Nothing is conclusive, which then brings us to the second question.

What is the cause of the increase? Many have argued that it is related to the MMR vaccine, no evidence had ever conclusively proved this. Couldn’t this as easily be a product of evolution? ASD has become a stronger genetic variation and is thriving in our culture today.

We would be foolish to think that evolution spent years evolving and stopped with humans. History shows that our temporal lobe has increased hugely. Why can’t ASD be the next evolution of the human brain? I look at my daughter, who is on the spectrum, knowing she is the future of humankind and perfect in every way.

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